Planners dig city’s new dirt stockpile rules

One change brings ordinance in line with other towns’

By: Christina Chapman-Van Yperen
Morris Daily Herald
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

A new soil stockpile ordinance was approved by the Morris Planning Commission Wednesday and will go before the full city council Monday, July 1.

Definition: A soil stockpile is formed with soil excavated to provide proper building elevations. Stockpiled soil is later replaced to contour the surface to the desired grade, or the material is used for reclamation/restoration of the region following the removal of all roads and facilities.


The Planning Commission has been working on an ordinance in preparation for future development. The commission met and held a public hearing on the ordinance, said Bill Cheshareck, building and zoning officer, Thursday. The commission approved the ordinance unanimously, but with an amendment.

Issue:  The soil stockpiles become an issue when they are created during construction and then left after the development is completed, he said previously. For example, if someone owns two lots and is building on one of them, they often put the soil dug out at the construction site in a pile on the second lot. When the house is then finished, it is often left on the site.

Children play on the piles, and they are hard to mow. The piles become eyesores and a nuisances, so the commission worked on an ordinance to get these piles — and other major piles larger developments use for mass grading — eliminated in a timely manner.

Solution:  City Planner Mike Hoffman of Teska Associates told the commission he did some research comparing Morris’ ordinance to those of neighboring communities and suggested a change.

The ordinance states non-mass grading piles shall not exceed six feet and shall be removed in six months or upon the issuance of an occupancy permit, whichever comes first. If a developer wants more time, they may request it of the building and zoning officer 60 days before the time limit expires.

Originally the ordinance stated for mass grading piles, it shall not exceed 15 feet, or two acres in area, and it should not be located within 500 feet of any developed lot. Hoffman suggested lowering this down to 300 feet to be more consistent with other communities, said Cheshareck. The commission agreed.

An additional stipulation in the original draft ordinance stated the stockpile shall be removed within two years, or within 30 days after 50 percent of the lots platted in any final subdivision are built on or sold.

The buildling and zoning officer can extend this in six-month increments at least 60 days before the time limit ends. No stockpiles can remain after the completion of the last structure in a development.

These rules do not apply to stockpiles in connection with municipal or school projects, according to the ordinance.